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The Seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching Video
The Catholic Church has a wide-ranging and many-layered collection of teachings about social justice issues. In order to help organize these ideas within the many Church documents about social teaching, we have seven traditional principles that help introduce the major themes in easier-to-understand concepts.
In this video we are going to look briefly at each principle, or theme, in order to introduce you to the foundational ideas at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching.
1.Life and Dignity of the Human Person
This principle means that all life is sacred; every person is precious in the eyes of God from conception to natural death.
This principle is the foundation for the Church’s teaching on abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, the death penalty, and even the pursuit of peace in conflict. In many ways, all the other principles can be traced back to this first, main idea: all human life is sacred and deserving of dignity.
2.Call to Family, Community, and Participation
All people have the right to participate as citizens in society, seeking the common good. We are social beings and should protect the institutions that strengthen our community like marriage and family.
“Christian families can [be a sign of unity for the world] by presenting to their children a model of life based on the values of truth, freedom, justice, and love.” St. John Paul II, The Family in the Modern World, no. 48
This principle has been central to the Church’s stance on marriage and family issues.
3. Rights and Responsibilities
This principle challenges us to recognize our duty to protect the rights that all people have according to the human dignity given to them by God.
The only way to protect community and the rights and dignity of the human person is for each of us to take responsibility and duty to one another, family, and the society in which we live.
4.Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
This principle means putting the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society first and mending the divisions between the rich and poor.
We think of the Lord Jesus’ words:
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” Luke 4:18
5.The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
Work is the way that we participate in God’s creation. To protect the dignity of work, we must protect the basic rights of all people to find jobs that pay a just wage, to organize and join unions, and to own private property.
In the late nineteenth century, as the work in factories became ever-present, the Church needed to take a stance for the rights of workers. Pope Leo XIII wrote what may be seen as the first major Catholic social teaching document, Rerum Novarum, or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, in order to protect the rights of workers in these situations. It is a document that still has relevance today as we continue to seek protection for the dignity of work and the rights of workers.
Solidarity is an important concept in Catholic Social Teaching that means we are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. We practice solidarity by promoting peace and justice.
7. Care for God’s Creation
Finally, we are to show respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Our faith and sense of morality must lead us to protect the environment and be considerate of future generations of people living on this planet.
These principles, which are a summary of the major concepts in Catholic social teaching, should only be a starting point. They should be the foundation on which our we place our understanding of our role in society. They should inspire us to take responsibility to protect the rights and dignity of all people, especially those in most need.
These principles outline the Church’s response to God’s call to take action in the world for others. We are to love one another as Christ loved us. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.